It’s somewhat cliche but it’s true. The best plan is the one you can stick to. This goes for training and for diet. If you hate it, if you can’t stand the thought of doing it, you’re probably not going to be able to maintain it.
This is why fad diets like Keto, South Beach and Atkins don’t work long-term. Will you lose weight in the first few weeks or even the first few months? Absolutely. Will you eventually fall off the wagon and put it all back on and then some? Most likely.
Enter the “80/20 Rule”. This method allows you to have the flexibility to still enjoy those foods you love like pizza, burgers, and beer without completely undoing all of your hard work.
Here’s how it works – 80% of the time, hit all of your workouts for the week, maintain a healthy diet of lean proteins, veggies, fruit, healthy fats, and hit your daily calorie target. 20% of the time, allow yourself to enjoy some of the foods you like that may not be the healthiest choices.
If you’re consistently putting in the work, then allowing yourself a couple of “cheat meals” or even a “cheat day” is not going to ruin you.
If you know you have an unhealthy relationship with food, or if this method of “rewarding” yourself with food tends to cause a downward spiral and turn into multiple meals or days of poor eating, by all means, don’t do it. This would not be a good method for you.
Being able to eat the foods you enjoy from time to time, while still staying within your calorie range or at least keeping it within reason, is going to be a lot less miserable than extreme deprivation 100% of the time.
When you actually plan out your “cheat meals” or your “cheat day”, it eliminates the feeling of failure or beating yourself up for getting off track. You planned it, you worked hard, you earned it, so enjoy it.
Just be forewarned that you may feel a little crappy afterward or maybe the next day. I find that if I have planned a “cheat meal” in advance, I already know the consequences of how I will probably feel for a short time afterward and I can handle that. If you that doesn’t work for you, simply do it.
There is no single right way to “do” fitness or nutrition. What works for some people may not work for others. In my view, fitness should enhance your life, not consume it.
Committed To Your Health,
Brian Donovan is a certified fitness and nutrition coach, and the founder of Online Fitness Coach, LLC – an online fitness program where clients get direct coaching and personally tailored training and nutrition plans. Coach Brian was voted Chicago’s “Best Personal Trainer” by Chicago Reader magazine, Best Of Chicago 2014 edition. He has been featured in magazines such as Muscle & Fitness, Chicago Reader, Voyage Chicago, and The PTDC as well various other health and fitness blogs.
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